Westport preps for Winter Storm Stella
Updated 5:12 pm, Monday, March 13, 2017
WESTPORT—As Winter Storm Stella approaches — expected to bring more than a foot of snow and high winds—the town is busy preparing for the nor’easter’s arrival.
A blizzard warning is in effect from Monday night through Tuesday and wind gusts could reach 50 mph.
Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer’s office announced schools would be closed Tuesday and First Selectman Jim Marpe announced Town Hall would also be closed.
Fire Chief Rob Yost, who serves as the emergency management director for the town, said the town could get 18 inches of snow and cautioned residents to stay off the roads due to the harsh conditions. As of now, there is no recommendation to evacuate, he said.
“We’re concerned about high winds and potential flooding, as well as the road conditions and the ability to travel. We’re going to make the recommendation that everybody stay home,” Yost said after meeting with other town officials to discuss the blizzard.
“We recommend people move their vehicles out of areas that are prone to flooding,” he added.
Marpe said most of the town will be shut down Tuesday and echoed Yost’s safety concerns: “My assumption is that virtually all businesses will be closed — And I would ask every Westport resident to please stay home and stay off the roads during the blizzard for their own safety and the safety of emergency staff. We will be communicating regularly with the public.”
A town-wide storm preparation meeting was held earlier Monday afternoon with Yost, Marpe and additional representatives from the following departments: fire, police, ems, parks and recreation, public works, finance, school and human services.
Fire, police and emergency medical services are all increasing staff for the storm because mutual aid from other towns is “tough to rely on” in storms of this magnitude, Yost said. He also suggested Westporters make sure they have working smoke detectors, flashlights, batteries and carbon monoxide detectors. Those with gas-powered backup generators should operate them outside of their homes to avoid inhaling the exhaust, he said.
Marpe said employees from the public works department will be coming in around 3 a.m. Tuesday to prepare the roads.
“They will begin to plow when it gets to around five inches to keep up with the snow and we will be going after the main roads primarily,” he said. “The primary goal is to keep the main roads open throughout the storm. We want to make sure our main arteries are open for emergency purposes.”
A typical snowstorm costs the town $50,000, but Marpe said he expects Stella to cost more than a “typical event.”
“This storm will put our snow removal expenses at, or possibly beyond, the budget for snow removal for this year,” he added.
In anticipation of the storm, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has extended severe weather protocol in order to provide adequate shelter space for residents during the cold spell. Eversource Energy is prepared to address power outages that result from the storm and warned customers to brace for power outages.